Okay, I know what you are thinking - it is another one of those Sams style "do the impossible in a really short amount of time" books. For a change, it is not and actually never claims to be. It even says to claim such a thing would be stupid!
This book is designed for real beginners - those who may have installed the Java SDK and not known what to do with it other than play a couple of online games or watch the BBC news ticker on their website.
The idea behind the book is that you have seven sessions (Friday night, three on Saturday and three on Sunday) and that by the end of the book, you should be able to write a standalone Java program or a Java applet. In the case of this book, the author uses a simple calculator program that is built up from a simple command line right up to a functioning GUI calculator. This is where things fall down though.
While the author explains what is going on, to me (and in earlier chapters especially), it appears to me that he is treating the reader as if they are bordering on slow. I can understand why he has done that, but to me (coming from a C++ background), it was not pleasant to read. Later on though, the author does start to treat the reader as a human being.
My other bind with this book is the volume of material covered. Sure the book is 468 pages, but to cover a large amount of the GUI provided by Java in a relatively short space was not a good idea and actually does an otherwise good book a disservice.
On the positive side, I have finally managed to understand the inheritance model used by Java, so the book cannot be all that bad.
Does it do what it claims to do? Yes and no. Yes, you should be able to write a standalone application or applet by the end of the book, but no as it will probably be full of holes.